Sebastian Mullaert - Broken Mirror EP

By Slav Ka

What's in the name? When it comes to naming tracks and EPs in electronic music, the answer is "Not that much".  A track, by any other name, still costs you $1.99 on Beatport.  However, track names range from awkward metaphors to trite phrases to self-indulgent word play to outright nonsense.  It's true that sometimes you can guess a track's genre by its name: "Black Light", "Posession", and "Inquiry of Truth" are more likely to be darker shade of techno rather than groovy house tracks.  Conversely, you'll never catch Marcel Dettmann cueing "Pfunk Station".   Beyond genre guessing, however, a track's name rarely has any relationship with the actual musical content of the track.  So when I came across Sebastian Mullaert's "Broken Mirror" EP, my first through was "Oh, great! Another metaphor...must be an atmospheric, melancholic techno release!"   

And then the music started. I immediately patted myself on the back for guessing the genre and the general feel of the EP from its name, but a strange thing happened while I was getting into the music:  on "Mirrors", I started HEARING mirrors, reflections, and the duality of the world that my metaphors-infected brain immediately started associating with the word "mirror".  Sonic elements of the track were very clearly separated: some sounded well defined, placed front and center into the sonic field.  You know - real!  And, seemingly, for every real element there was its ethereal counterpart, bouncing around and dancing in and out of the sound stage like mischievous ray of light reflected by...wait for it...yes, A MIRROR.

So what's in the name? In this case it's the very essence of the piece: it musically imagines what it would be like to shoot sound into a hall of mirrors. So what would be the musical equivalent of breaking those mirrors? Well, cue the next track.  On "Broken Mirror" the rhythm indeed sounds broken, ethereal seeps through the cracks and mixes with the real, eschewing the methodical separation of sounds in the previous track. And, as if the author is not happy with mirrors breaking and worlds colliding, the mood and the feel of the track lean heavily on the side of melancholy.  Finally, in what seems like a happy end to this trip, Sebastian gives us closure through his Wa Wu We treatment of "Broken Mirror", where melancholy recedes and gives way to peace, acceptance and a little acid.